Basic strategy gives you the best chance to turn a profit.
How does this work? The most obvious impact of strategy is to reduce the overall house edge.
Game rules and payouts can differ from one establishment to the next, the average blackjack player often plays at around a 2% disadvantage (a 2% house edge).
By adding basic strategy to the mix, however, the house edge is reduced. In games where the more liberal Vegas rules apply, this often ends up as low as 0.5%. That means a player can expect to lose an average of $0.05 for every $10 wagered, which is a small price to pay for an evening of gambling fun and social interaction.
Rookie players may not like the idea of any sort of losses, but it's important to remember that the casino is in business to always have an advantage over the player. While you may not be able to erase this edge, getting it down to below 1% should be considered a victory unto itself.
Since this post is about the merits of basic strategy in blackjack, I thought it would be a good idea to actually provide the reader with an example of what I'm talking about.
Definition of Abbreviations
This basic strategy chart uses abbreviations to save space, and here's what each one means:
Note: All totals to the left represent the player's hand. "Hard" means a total that doesn't include an Ace, while "soft" does have an Ace as one of the cards. "Split" indicates a hand that is eligible to be split under the basic rules of blackjack. The following chart is to be used with 4 to 8-deck games where the dealer is required to stand on a soft 17.
When playing blackjack at a land-based casino, it's common for pit personnel to note how long you sit at the tables and take notes on the average size of your wager. They often rate players, as well, labeling them "poor," "average," or "superior." The latter is based on your overall competency, and the vast majority of players get lumped into the average category.
If you use basic strategy, you're likely to be labeled as "superior," which means the casino shouldn't expect your average losses to be high. While this might provide a nice ego boost, it can hurt you in one area: comps.
Casinos often award comps to blackjack players as a way of offsetting some of their losses at the tables. If your losses aren't going to be as high as most, then you shouldn't expect to get as many freebies.
Of course, getting comps shouldn't be your main reason for playing blackjack in the first place. The goal of your sessions should be to win as much as possible, and basic strategy gives you the best chance of doing just that.
You should always use basic strategy in blackjack because it lowers the house edge and gives you a better chance of making a profit. Sure, it takes some work to memorize a strategy chart, but online players also have the luxury of setting the chart right in front of them. Whether you play at a virtual casino or a brick-and-mortar establishment, this common sense gambling strategy should pay noticeable dividends over the course of the upcoming months and years.